Typical propane cannon

Typical propane cannon

New cannon rules now in effect

Langley Township council has implemented new rules for use of propane cannons to scare off birds.

Enforcement of new regulations governing propane cannons in Langley Township is expected to begin the first week of July, following their final approval Monday afternoon  (June 24) by Langley Township council.

The 7-1 vote came after the provincial Ministry of Agriculture reviewed and approved the rules that will require larger setbacks and less frequent firing of the controversial bird scare devices used to protect berry crops.

Councillor Kim Richter cast the only vote against the bylaws.

Councillor Grant Ward, who did not attend the meeting, supported the measures in previous votes.

There is nothing in the new bylaws about banning the controversial cannons because the ministry, which has the final say on any farming regulations, made it clear that any attempt at imposing a ban or limiting loudness would be overturned under right-to-farm laws.

The new Township bylaws restrict how often the cannons can be fired, allowing one firing every five minutes for a single cannon and no more than 33 shots an hour when more than one cannon is being fired by a berry farm.

The bylaw sets escalating fines for violating the rules, $150 for a first offence, $350 for a second and $500 for a third and any subsequent offence.

Farmers will also be required to get a $125-a-year licence to use cannons.

The regulations were drafted by the Propane Cannon Task Force, which was created in September by the municipal Agricultural Advisory Committee.

During a public hearing in January, the task force heard from 25 speakers, all critical of blueberry cannons for disturbing residents and frightening horses.

Most demanded an outright ban.